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September 22, 2014 - With Ray Cotolo's $1,250 profit on Little Brown Jug Day, it looked very much like he would cruise home to victory this week in HANA Harness' Grand Circuit Shoot-Out Handicapping Contest sponsored by the Hambletonian Society, DRF Harness, Meadowlands Racing & Gaming, Northfield Park, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs. However, by the end the week's handicapping action In Quebec, Cotolo was indeed the weekly winner, but his lead had shrunk from $588 to only $105.20 over Dennis O'Hara as these two handicappers were the only ones to finish the week in the black. While the finish for weekly honors was tight, Bob Zanakis retains a comfortable lead of $1,039.35 to maintain the overall lead ($2,949.35) over second place Mark McKelvie ($1,910.00) through 34 legs of the contest. Brandon Valvo ($1,715.00) trails closely behind in third which rounds out the top three positions where donations are to be made to standardbred horse rescues on the victors' behalf. Jugette Day (Wednesday, September 17) at the Delaware County Fair had Dennis O'Hara lead the handicappers with his daily net profit of $589.80 thanks to his $6 base Superfecta ($240 total) on the Buckette coming in, paying $829.90 which was his sole wager for the day. Second best on Thursday was Josi Verlingieri, whose $410 profit was attributable to a $100 Win ticket on the American-National for 2yo colt trotters at Balmoral Park which paid a $660 dividend. Jug Day (Thursday, September 18) saw Cotolo collect the previously mentioned $1,250 return which was earned on a do-or-die $250 win ticket on the 2nd division of the Jug paying a generous $1,500. Sally Hinckley was the only other player with a positive return Thursday ($632) thanks to her $4 trifecta box ($24 total) in the Old Oaken Bucket which returned $882. With a day off, the contest resumed Saturday night with a septet of races at Hoosier Park plus the Milton Stakes at Mohawk Racetrack. Needless to say, the defeat of Sebastian K took most of the handicappers down but at the end of day, a lone handicapper had a positive return. Dennis O'Hara led the group with a net profit of $135 for Friday thanks to his $300 investment in $25 Superfectas in the 2nd division of the Kentuckiana Stallion Management stake for 2yo pacing fillies which paid $507.50. To conclude the weekend's activity, the team of handicappers did battle with the return of the Prix d'Ete at Hippodrome 3r. By the time the curtain came down on Sunday's action, only two handicappers had a positive return, led by Derick Giwner who had a positive return of $225 thanks to his $150 win wager on Sunfire Blue Chip who returned $375. The other handicapper with a positive return was Verlingieri, whose $125 profit was attributable to her own $150 win ticket. The current standings after the completion of the weekend’s activity are:   As of September 21, 2014 - Leg 34 Pos Handicapper Week Gain Net Profit Behind 1st Bob Zanakis ($789.50) $2,949.35   2nd Mark McKelvie ($462.00) $1,910.00 $1,039.35 3rd Brandon Valvo ($860.00) $1,715.00 $1,234.35 4th Josi Verlingieri ($111.00) $1,028.05 $1,921.30 5th Rusty Nash ($640.00) ($442.76) $3,392.11 6th Brian McEvoy ($337.50) ($559.00) $3,508.35 7th Gordon Waterstone ($361.00) ($700.30) $3,649.65 8th Earl Paulson ($1,095.00) ($1,190.50) $4,139.85 9th Derick Giwner ($675.00) ($2,024.23) $4,973.58 10th Sally Hinckley ($200.00) ($2,441.90) $5,391.25 11th Garnet Barnsdale ($1,148.00) ($2,542.70) $5,492.05 12th Ray Garnett ($956.00) ($2,583.10) $5,532.45 13th Ann Stepien ($466.20) ($2,598.91) $5,548.26 14th Dennis O'Hara $244.80 ($2,794.90) $5,744.25 15th Ray Cotolo $350.00 ($5,848.40) $8,797.75                                                                                    This week, the racing action is concentrated at The Red Mile with various divisions of the Bluegrass being contested Thursday thru Sunday.  The only deviation from an all-Lexington weekend comes Saturday with the $200,000 Jim Ert Memorial Invitational at Scioto Downs for pacers four year old and up..  As always, the Grand Circuit Shoot-Out may be followed at http://hanaharnesscontest.blogspot.com.       Allan Schott HANA Harness Coordinator allan@hanaweb.org      

Montreal, August 7 2014 – Yesterday, the Minister of Agriculture, Pierre Paradis, announced his intention to put forward a bill that would redefine animals in the Civil Code of Quebec and grant them the status of sentient beings. In order to proceed with this reform, Mr. Paradis reached an agreement with the Minister of Justice, Stéphanie Vallée. Mr. Paradis’ announcement comes in response to the Animals are not things manifesto, which was launched on January 22nd and has been signed by over 46 000 people. The manifesto, which is supported by theMontreal SPCA, calls for a reconsideration of the legal status of animals in the Civil Code of Quebec. Currently, our Civil Code considers animals to be moveable property, indistinguishable from a toaster or a chair. Under civil law, the act of hurting or abusing an animal is therefore tantamount to the destruction of property. The SPCA applauds Minister Paradis’ willingness to reform the legal status of animals. “Given the importance and complexity of this issue, as well as the fact that over 46 000 Quebec citizens have expressed their concern about it, it is crucial that public consultations take place before moving forward with a bill” said Me Sophie Gaillard, Lawyer and Campaigns Manager for the Montreal SPCA Animal Advocacy Department. “We feel that this is an opportunity to effect real change for animals in this province and for Quebec to become a leader in animal welfare instead of lagging behind.” Anita Kapuscinska, Media Relations Coordinator, Montreal SPCA, 514-226-3932, or anitak@spca.com.

Cheating on your spouse is not very nice; and is still a crime in many places. While prosecutions for Adultery are admittedly rare, the Scarlet Letter crime is still on the books. In fact, at last count it's a criminal offense in 21 states. While liberalized divorce laws in all 50 states have eliminated the need to plead and prove civil grounds for divorce, such as Adultery, some spouses try to encourage prosecution of their wayward betrothed to extract an advantage with issues such as child custody and visitation. Public Intoxication is also a criminal offense in several states, and, unlike adultery, arrests and prosecutions occur with regularity. A related crime, Public Lewdness, occurs when too much beer leads to the need to relieve oneself in an open place. How prevalent are the types of activities described above?  You don’t need to have a degree in the social sciences to conclude that everybody has, and everybody will, do regrettable things during their lifetimes. While not everyone sleeps around or drinks to excess in public, there are those who have shoplifted a candy bar; made graffiti; sold a bootleg recording; hosted a poker game; walked across railroad tracks when the gates were down; passed a joint to a friend (constitutes a drug sale); cheated on their taxes and committed hundreds of other criminal offenses. Imagine someone being permanently banned from participating in pari-mutuel harness racing because his spouse caught him carousing around her back, or because he screamed obscenities in a park at midnight in an inebriated state. Not nice; and possibly criminal activity… but do these actions truly speak to the appropriateness of participation in our industry? Moreover, if the activity occurred away from a racetrack, what possible business would a racetrack management, much less a racing commission, have in using it to judge the character and fitness of an individual who always acts as a professional while in the paddock? Finally, all other things considered, would the penalty of perpetual banishment truly fit the crimes referenced? The stakeholders in our industry have varied opinions when it comes to horse slaughter. Irrespective of my opinion or that of anyone else, the present legal status of horse slaughter in this country is what it is; like it or not.  Against this backdrop, consider the lawsuit presently pending in a Federal District Court in Ohio entitled, Mumaw v. Ohio State Racing Commission. The plaintiffs are longstanding owners and trainers of Thoroughbreds at Thistledown Racetrack. They contend that in 2012 they retired one of their horses by giving it to a woman seeking a riding horse for her children. The plaintiffs did not transfer the Jockey Club registration papers, explaining that they didn’t want the horse to end up racing ever again. They allege that it wasn’t until 2013 that the Jockey Club permitted a “Sold as Retired from Racing” designation on registration papers. Thus, they remained the paper owners of the horse. Shortly thereafter, plaintiffs were contacted by somebody they describe as an animal rights’ advocate who indicated that the horse was purchased at a livestock auction house known as a conduit for horses destined for slaughter. It is alleged that this individual demanded money in exchange for her silence. Plaintiffs state that they balked at what they describe as blackmail, and the advocate then contacted both the stewards and track management. Purportedly based upon a racetrack boarding agreement provision prohibiting any horse from being transported from the track for the purpose of slaughter or to an auction house who sells horses for slaughter, the stewards and racetrack management permanently banned plaintiffs and their horses from participation in racing at the track. The question as to whether plaintiffs received a full, fair, constitutional hearing before the stewards is an open question in the litigation; as is the question of whether plaintiffs knew or should have known that the horse was going to a slaughter auction. The answers to these questions and many others are dependent upon what the court ultimately elicits as the true facts in the case. There are, however, questions that can be addressed without the need for much fact finding.      The truth is that there is no jurisdiction, including Ohio, which makes it a crime to either buy or sell a horse for the purpose of eventual slaughter. In other words, while some may think selling a horse in a grade sale is horribly wrong, nobody has made it criminal. Yes, slaughter is illegal in certain states, but selling a horse with even nefarious intent doesn’t constitute slaughter. Moreover, not every horse at a grade sale necessarily goes to slaughter. In Ohio, some are purchased by Old Order Amish community members for transport or farm work. In fact, it appears from the complaint in the matter that the horse in question was actually purchased by a horse rescuer and never sent to slaughter. Plaintiffs deny that they transported a horse from the track for the purpose of slaughter. Even if they were found to have done so, what was violated was a track rule embodied in a stall application, not a state statute or regulation. While Thistledown management might be allowed to exclude plaintiffs’ from participation at their premises, what authority did the state’s stewards have to enforce a “house” rule? The question is important, because there are other Thoroughbred venues in Ohio where the actions of the stewards could have wide-ranging implications. What’s more, the very validly of house rules have always been a shaky issue. Decades ago, New York’s highest court voided a “policy” which was never promulgated according to state-mandated procedures that required jockeys suspended by the state during the Saratoga race meet to take their days at Saratoga. Years later, a federal judge refused to dismiss a complaint by New York jockey agents which challenged the legitimacy of a house rule limiting them from representing more than one journeyman jockey. In essence, if a house rule adversely affects a licensee, it impinges upon the vested property right granted to him or her via their state-issued occupational license. It’s for this reason that New York’s highest court also invalidated the state’s attempt to delegate licensing authority to the private, non-governmental Jockey Club. In sum, you could commit a crime and not serve a day’s suspension. You could also violate a racetrack’s house rule, not be in violation of a single law or regulation, and be banned for life not only by racetrack management, by the stewards in their official capacity as state commission agents. Don’t think slaughter is good? I don’t either, but that’s not the point. If Ohio doesn’t have a rule on the books, their officials shouldn’t be enforcing the rules of private organizations. Judges should fine and suspend the state licenses of individuals for regulatory violations, not because a private organization doesn’t like something. After all, aren’t the judges beholden to state law and regulation? When track managements persuade the judges to enforce track rules, it gives those non-governmental rules the impermissible imprimatur of the state. That’s just wrong, because while today the issue is slaughter, tomorrow it might be about free speech, driving style or perceived disloyalty.  Chris E. Wittstruck is an attorney, a director of the Standardbred Owners Association of New York and a charter member of the Albany Law School Racing and Gaming Law Network. Chris E. Wittstruck Courtesy of The USTA Web Newsroon

April 6, 2014 - HANA Harness is pleased to announce additional sponsors (one new and one returning) to the 2014 HANA Harness Grand Circuit 'Shoot-Out' Handicapping Contest presented by The Hambletonian Society, DRF Harness, Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment, Northfield Park, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs. New as a Silver Sponsor this year is the Central Ontario Standardbred Association (COSA) which presently represents horsemen at WEG tracks. Returning for a third year of sponsorship at the Silver level is Red Shores Racetrack and Casino at Charlottetown Driving Park. As Canadian sponsors, their donations will be used to benefit Canadian Standardbred rescues. We encourage all followers of the handicapping challenge to visit our sponsors' websites by visiting the contest website and clicking on their logos. Sponsorship opportunities remain available. Tracks, horsemen associations, racing stables, and those vendors who market to the harness racing industry and/or fans are welcome to become sponsors. For additional information regarding sponsorship, click here. HANA is also pleased to announce the roster of handicappers has been finalized with the addition of Brian McEvoy. McEvoy, works for Harnesslink in various capacities. This will be his first appearance in a HANA handicapping contest and he will be playing for Horse Rescue United. The first leg of the 2014 Grand Circuit 'Shoot-Out' is scheduled for April 26, 2014 when the finals of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pace and the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series will be contested at Yonkers Raceway. A complete list of contest days may be found here. by Al Schott, for HANA

Fortuitous timing was unmistakable as Gayda Errett of Balderton, Ontario realized the value her recent online educational venture - participating in Equine Guelph's new Behaviour and Safety eWorkshop. Never in her wildest dreams would she have imagined herself applying the information learned about horse rescue, less than one month earlier, to her own beloved 29 year old horse, Sundance, but in the face of an emergency on Saturday, May 4, 2013, Gayda's newly found knowledge saved the day. It was Gayda's husband who returned from the paddock with serious news that their beautiful Clyde cross was cast in his shelter in a state of stress and exhaustion. He had lain down too close to the outside wall of the stall and thus had no room to engage his front legs to get up. Gayda immediately called their vet but he was away. The vet on call was at another emergency and would not be available for another two hours! Realizing this was too long to wait, the next call was answered by a member of the fire department whose equipment would be able to help get Sundance back on his feet.  When help arrived, the firefighter's initial plan was to pull the stocky steed upright by putting strapping around his hind legs. Gayda knew this could be injurious to her horse, thanks to a video she had seen in the Behaviour and Safety short course which explained how to rescue a cast horse in a stall. She suggested they slide the webbing under his belly in order to pull him back away from the wall to give him space to get up. Much to everyone's relief, it worked perfectly! Gayda recounts poor Sundance was absolutely traumatized and very weak from the ordeal of trying so hard to get up for such a long time. However, thanks to his successful rescue, he immediately drank water, ate another helping of his morning supplements and headed albeit with difficulty to the hay feeder to catch-up with breakfast. Gayda had Sundance examined by the vet after the ordeal and was grateful to have a bit more time to spend with the dear old boy. Unfortunately, Sundance was euthanized ten days later with complications that may or may not have been caused by the incident, but it was so important that Gayda had the knowledge to help that day.  Gayda says, "Thank you so much to Dr. Susan Raymond at Equine Guelph and emergency rescue specialist, Dr. Rebecca Gimenez for creating this important two-week online course. I am going to encourage all my fellow horse friends to take the upcoming fall offering of this course as a must!" The next offering of Equine Guelph's Behaviour and Safety eWorkshop will be from September 9th to the 22nd, 2013. Sign up at www.EquineGuelph.ca/education.  There are still a few spaces left!   Equine Guelph will also be offering two more invaluable short courses this fall covering Colic Prevention (Sept 23 - Oct 6) and Biosecurity Oct 21 - Nov 3). by Jackie Bellamy for Equine Guelph 

A 148-acre ranch with 80 paddocks, 18 barns and over 500 stalls sounds like a pretty good place for a horse rescue operation. That's what Dawn Schmertmann figured when she discovered Spring Garden Ranch in DeLeon Springs, Florida. Actually, it turned out to be a perfect match.

With nearly 100 horses in the USTA Pleasure Registration conversion program, Registrar TC Lane reminds all owners that they should consider this final step before they give away or sell a horse with the provision they not be raced or bred.

New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program has announced the expansion of its Standardbred division to Laurel Haven Farm. The beautiful facility southeast of Columbus is managed by professional harness racing trainer Jennifer Daniels.

Two months after Amy McDonald 'lost a piece of her soul' when a fire rampaged through the family's St Johns (Newfoundland) harness racing stable, she says the kindness and generosity of the North American people have helped her get over the tragedy.

The Badlands Hanover Syndicate recognizes that recent industry related decisions may place significant hardship on many Standardbred owners and breeders. Over the last several months, we have read several disturbing articles regarding the potential euthanasia of Ontario based harness racing horses.

Nancy Schechterle, of Wilbraham, Mass., keeps track of every horse she's ever been associated with. 'I know where all of mine are except one. I keep track of them; there is just one that I cannot locate and that's All Time Hit.'

Red Rouge, a pacer with 253 starts and $83,258 in earnings, is the 80th horse assisted by the USTA's Support Our Standardbreds (SOS) program.

Twenty years and hundreds of horses later, Maryland based rescue Horse Lovers United is still going strong. 'We've helped hundreds of horses have a new life after harness racing,' HLU president Lorraine Truitt said.

The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) commends Senator Kay Hagen (D-NC) and Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) for introducing S. 3448, the Corolla Wild Horses Protection Act.

As he closes in on Herve Filion's all-time North American career win record of 15,180 - he needs two to break the mark entering Thursday's harness racing action - Dave Palone is remembering the horses who helped him reach the top.

A board member of the Christian Harness Horsemen's Association has issued a challenge to his fellow harness racing owners to dig into their pockets and give to the Standardbred Retirement Foundation's (SRF) home.

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